The twentieth season of “American Idol” premieres on February 27, 2022, but one contestant in particular already looks like a favorite to win or at least go very far.
In a promotional video for season 20, Katy Perry refers to a contestant auditioning for “American Idol,” Jeremiah “Jay” Copeland, as a “superstar.” The judges then give Copeland a platinum ticket, which, for the first time ever, is being given to only three contestants during the audition process.
The contestants with platinum tickets get to sit in on one day of Hollywood week, checking out the competition from the audience. They will then have a chance to choose their duet partner.
So who is Jay Copeland, the first confirmed platinum ticketholder in “American Idol” history? Here’s what we know.
Who Is Jay Copeland?
A native of Salisbury, Maryland, Copeland sings Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” in the “American Idol” season 20 trailer. Katy Perry gestures that she has goosebumps and Luke Bryan cheers Copeland on.
Christie Wersen, a director from Copeland’s high school theater program, told local news outlet Delmarva Now that she knew Copeland would go far from the time he was in ninth grade. “He took the stage like a star from freshman year,” she said. “There was no denying his incredible talent.”
After high school, Copeland majored in music and theatre at Salisbury University. Delmarva Now reports that he placed first in the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition during college. He graduated in 2020.
“Folks in the collegiate world are very aware of Jay Copeland,” Wesley Wright, a teacher at Salisbury University, told Delmarva Now. Copeland regularly posts videos of him singing on his Instagram page.
Other Season 20 ‘American Idol’ Contestants
Copeland isn’t the only contestant highlighted in the season 20 trailer. Another contestant is seen crying, stating, “it took a lot to get here.” In fact, there are quite a few tears in the short teaser. Lionel Richie wipes his eyes as one auditioner talks about being bullied as a kid and Katy Perry’s eyes are filled with tears as she listens to a contestant dedicate his audition to his late nephew.
“Singing is my way of healing. The song I’m gonna sing today is the song I used to sing to him all the time when I would rock him to sleep,” the contestant says. “Katy is an absolute wreck,” says Luke Bryan.
The trailer shows one other auditioner waving a platinum ticket, a young woman accompanied by a man with an acoustic guitar.
‘American Idol’ Alums Will Mentor Contestants This Season
Bobby Bones, who has served as a mentor to “American Idol” contestants since season 16, will not be returning for the twentieth season. Instead, various “American Idol” alums will make appearances to impart wisdom to the hopefuls standing where they once stood.
At a Television Critics Association press event, host Ryan Seacrest said he would like to see Carrie Underwood, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, and Jennifer Hudson return as mentors.
“I want to see every one of those contestants come back. I want to see, way back to the beginning,” Seacrest said (via Entertainment Tonight).